Tim Maddren

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Well-known musical performer Tim Maddren has recently relocated to Port Macquarie with his family. Tim fills us in on his exciting plans, which include a new business and an upcoming performance at The Glasshouse.

Hi Tim. Most of FOCUS’ readers would know you from your time with Hi-5. What’s your favourite memory/experience from this part of your life?

I had many incredible experiences in Hi-5. A father once flew me over Sydney in his plane as a way of saying thank you for what I had taught his sons on the show.

Another unbelievable one was when we were just about to perform at The Cube in Campbelltown (Western Sydney), when the Malaysian Royal Family turned up. Hi-5 weren’t to perform in Malaysia for a while, so the family flew to Australia just so their children could watch us. After the show, we met with the family, and then they flew back to Malaysia.

My favourite memory was performing at Vision Australia’s Carols By Candlelight, with Steph [my wife] and my parents in the audience.

How do you feel working with/entertaining children added to your depth as a performer?

As a performer, children are fantastic audience members – I even prefer them as critics. If adults don’t like your performance, they clap vivaciously, congratulate you at your opening night party, then tear you to shreds publically in the media the next day. Critical children would stand up mid-show and yell, “I DON’T LIKE YOU!” I can at least negotiate with that.

As a person, I learnt how important the role of a “storyteller” is to a community. A storyteller could be a dancer, actor, writer, singer, artist, dinner table conversationalist or anyone who riffs upon some bolt of humanity. It took me a while to realise their importance.

I’ve always thought, my job is a ball of fun – “Not saving lives, but I’m making people happy”. However, when you get that phone call telling you a young boy’s dying wish is to have you beside him, you quickly realise how important making people happy means to someone.

As a group we realised this just by visiting an area, like the outskirts of Cebu (Phillippines). Here, Hi-5’s visit caused the disputing government to agree to better water sanitation for the province – go figure. Since being in the group I have become a writer myself and teach my performance students that every performer must always work for the betterment of the story. Because of my own experiences, I take the responsibility of a storyteller very seriously and teach my students to do the same.

You and lovely wife, Steph, have relocated to Port Macquarie. What was it about the area that attracted you?

Steph is originally from Port Macquarie. I’m originally from Marlborough in New Zealand. We are both used to having easy access to the outdoors, family, and we want the same for our son, Banjo. We also wouldn’t be here if the Glasshouse wasn’t – it’s a top-class venue.

What have you most enjoyed about living here so far?

The three of us have a heap more time together. Up here, I’ve even had time to read a book or two. I love Australian history, and I’ve been delving into the world of Annabella Boswell (Major Innes’ niece). Annabella wrote a lot about the local area in the 1830s – I’m going to use one of her quotes in the show.

You and Steph have formed a production company, called Got Ya Back Productions. What services do you offer?

Our big aim is to encourage the arts; especially live performance, throughout the greater Port Macquarie region. Fostering Port Macquarie’s future performers is very important to us – especially for Got Ya Back Productions’ long-term success. We are already involved in teaching at schools throughout Port, and I’ve just taken up the position as the choir-master for the Children’s Mid North Coast Conservatorium Choir.

Got Ya Back Productions aims to bring top-class performers and small productions from around Australia to performance spaces currently under-utilised throughout the region. Where possible, we also want these productions to contain local talent and stories that can also be showcased.

What led you to move into the production side of the business (as well as performing)?

Steph and I have been blessed with successful performance careers and will continue to further those. But as producers, we can fund whatever show we choose. Having the Glasshouse, among many other great venues up here, we can see these productions realised in these fantastic venues.

You have an upcoming show, Me and My Shadow, at the Glasshouse on March 18. Describe this production for us – what are some of the numbers you’ll be performing?

A crooner also used to be called a saloon singer. The great crooners, before their acts turned into glitzy Las Vegas extravaganzas, all performed first in these intimate, smokey saloons. The saloon appears to have been forgotten by the modern crooner as a venue. But, I believe a saloon is still the best place for this form of singing to be witnessed. It’s a raw space that gives the performer almost nothing else to rely upon other than their skill. It’s just a pianist and a crooner working together. Saloon singing is one of the hardest forms of live performance to execute, and it’s thrilling to watch.

Got Ya Back Productions are turning the Glasshouse’s Ross Family Studio into a traditional crooning saloon. Audience members can sit wherever they want: at a table, bar table, or even on the original tiered seating. They can sit back with a drink and/or a cheese platter and enjoy the old-school form that is saloon crooning.

Me and My Shadow is designed to feel just like the saloon shows of the great Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Some of the greatest croon-tunes will be performed – Mack the Knife, Luck Be a Lady, Mr Bojangles, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. In another crooning tradition, more recent songs will be re-arranged to suit the style of the night.

What do you most like about this particular style of music – that of the greatest crooners of all time?

Not only is every song that will be performed written by some of the greatest songwriters of the 20th Century, but the stories contained within their melodies are rich and a joy to tell. That’s why these great men performed with these songs; they’re a performer’s gift.

Steph and I are proud to say that apart from the songs, every part of Me and My Shadow will be done by Port Macquarie based crew and performers.

Tell us a bit about the upcoming production of Peter Pan … where/when can we see you in this performance, and how does it differ from other musical roles you’ve played in the past?

Every year Bonnie Lythgoe (former judge on So You Think You Can Dance) produces and directs Australia’s largest pantomime. This year, Todd McKenney and I have been asked to lead Peter Pan. Todd is playing Hook, and I will play the boy that never grew up.

I leave Port to tour with the show from June until late July. The show opens at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, then moves to the State Theatre in Sydney, before opening at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. To play Peter Pan and lead a big-budget production alongside Todd McKenney is a dream come true – I even get to fly!

Where can we find out more about you?

I regularly update my @timmaddren Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

If you want to know what shows Got Ya Back is producing, just look for the little stick figures on our advertisements.

Thanks Tim.

Interview by Jo Robinson.

Photo of Tim as Peter Pan by Robert Catto.

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